Summary: This sermon tries to rewaken the "alive" in each believer and to tempt those who do not believe with the "aliveness" of Christ as we remember those who gave their lives for us. (Based on Charles Wesley’s hymn "And Are We Yet Alive."
“And Are We Yet Alive?
Memorial Day Sunday, May 25, 2003
Purpose: To reawaken the “alive” in each believer and to tempt those who do not believe with the “aliveness” of Christ. (Based on Charles Wesley’s hymn “And Are We Yet Alive.”)
Introduction – (asking the congregation) What does it mean to be alive??? What does it mean to not be alive???
There’s a Yiddish story that goes something like this…
A scholar was traveling on his way to give an important lecture when the rain began to fall in torrents. When the rain stopped, the river quickly rose above the bridge and the scholar was unable to cross.
He hired a carpenter who owned a rowboat to take him to the other side. As the carpenter prepared the boat the scholar asked, “Living this far from civilization, do you have access to a quality newspaper?”
“I seldom read a newspaper at all,” replied the carpenter, “What news I get comes from the radio and TV.”
“My dear man,” the scholar replied, “anyone who doesn’t read a daily newspaper is missing out on life.”
As they boarded the boat, the scholar asked yet another question, “Well, you must have a library near by where you can check out good books, don’t you?”
The carpenter took the oars into his massive hands and began to row, “I haven’t read a book in years,” he replied.
“My dear man,” the scholar retorted, “anyone who does not read is missing out on life.”
There was a long pause in the conversation as they crossed the raging water until the scholar asked one last question, “What about plays or symphonies, dramas or good music? Are you able to attend or enjoy any of these?”
“As I’ve been trying to tell you,” the carpenter said with some irritation, “I wouldn’t mind going to plays and symphonies, but they are terribly expensive, and my carpentry business keeps me busy as I try to meet the needs of others…and to be honest, even though you might not agree…I do feel very much alive.”
Just then the boat hit a stump and capsized sending both men into the raging water. The carpenter shouted to the scholar, “Sir, can you swim?”
“No!” came the fear-filled shout of the scholar.
“Well, then…” as he grabbed an oar and pushed it in front of the scholar, “here, have my creation and learn how to truly live.” And with that, the carpenter pulled the scholar back to safety.
(taken from “Stories for The Gathering” by William White)
Webster says that to be alive is to “have a life, to be sensitive to, to be aware of , in existence of
operation, to be active and living.”
On the other hand, with no surprise, Webster says to be dead is to “have no life, lacking feeling and sensitivity, numb or unresponsive.” It’s interesting to note that the definition for “dead” is three times as long as the definition for “to be alive.”
While many people will tell us how we should “be alive”, it takes three times as many words to explain what we mean by death.
You may have heard this other story…
Two men were fighting side-by-side in the worst war ever to be fought. They found themselves on the losing side of the battle. And, as the enemy quickly surrounded them negating any hope of retreat or surrender, one of the men looked at the other and asked, “Will this be it? Is this how it will end?”
The other man, being a person of faith, quickly tried to reassure the other, telling him that Christ offered an option that he may not have thought about, and that if he would only accept, that option would be his.
But the first man responded, “I don’t know about you, this Christ, or acceptance, but I do know this, facing death, I’ll take any option.” As one theologian put it, “we never truly understand our lives, until we come to face to face with our inevitable deaths.”
This Memorial Day weekend, we will celebrate both being alive and the dead. While many people see this simply a three-day weekend, we must never forget that for those who have lost someone because of war or military action, it means much more than time off.
We are alive today. Because people have died for this country, we have the right to preach God’s word freely. We have the right to live at peace in our own homes. We have the right to pursue peace, prosperity, and happiness in our communities. We have to right to assemble and to thank God for those who died to make us free.
As we prepare to enter into a day to remember those who died for liberty, it is also fitting to remember the One who died to set us free from spiritual tyranny. Jesus fought the armies of Hell that we might have liberty in his holy name.